How to Treat Common Carpet Stains

Domestic CEO’s expert tips for cleaning 4 common carpet stains cheaply and easily.

Amanda Thomas
4-minute read
Episode #13

How to Treat Common Carpet Stains


Stains happen – and not just to your clothing. If you have kids or pets (or heck, even if you don’t), you know the frustration of finding an unsightly spot on your beautiful cream colored carpet. It’s not like you can just drop it in the washing machine, and professional carpet cleaning is expensive. So how do you clean up those household stains that are taunting you?

Here are my 4 favorite tips for taking care of some of the most common – and most challenging – disgraces to your space. As a reminder with any stain removing tip, make sure to try the technique in an inconspicuous area to make sure it is safe for your surfaces. And, if you are ever in doubt, call in a professional. While these tricks are easy and cheap, there are definitely times where it is better to call in the carpet cleaner. If the stain is big or set in, a professional might save you time and frustration.

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Tip #1: Old Fashioned Dirt on Carpet and Upholstery

When some of the great outdoors ends up coming into your home, it is possible to get the stain out. As soon as you see the tracks come in, try and clean up as many dirty chucks as you can. If you have fresh mud, you can wait until it dries, and then vacuum up the clumps. After you’ve gotten all the loose pieces, mix one teaspoon of a mild detergent (one containing no alkalines or bleaches) with one cup of warm water, and blot the stain. Follow this with a mixture of ½ cup of water and one teaspoon of ammonia and blot again. Then, repeat step one with detergent and water, and finally do a rinse cycle with just clean water. Blot out as much of the water as you can with a clean towel, and keep foot traffic away from the wet spot until it has dried. The last thing you want is someone with a little dust on their shoes creating another muddy stain!

Tip #2: Don’t Cry Over Spilled Coffee

Ughh, is there anything worse than spilling your coffee on the carpet? Not only do you have to deal with the stain, but you have to do it uncaffeinated! Treating the stain will only take a few minutes, so go brew yourself another pot, and by the time it’s ready, so will your carpet.

First, use a clean towel to absorb as much of the spill as possible. Blot gently until the area is not sopping wet. Then mix a little squirt of dish soap into a cup filled with warm water. Use a clean sponge to apply the soapy mixture to the carpet. Blot it again with a clean towel to pull even more of the stain out. Next, mix ¼ cup white vinegar with ½ cup warm water. Apply the vinegar mixture to the carpet with the sponge again. Use a clean towel to pull that liquid out of the carpet. Finally, sponge clean water onto the spot, then, you guessed it, blot the spot with a clean towel. Allow the spot to dry before allowing foot traffic, and go enjoy another cup of joe.

Related content: How to Use Vinegar to Clean Your Home

Tip #3: That Darn Cat (or Dog)!

If Fido or Fluffy aren’t properly housetrained, their accidents may be easier to clean than you think. Don’t waste money on expensive cleaners, because everything you need is likely in your kitchen already. As soon as you find the accident on carpet, dab all the excess moisture with a towel. Follow with sudsy water, a squirt of dish soap in a cup of water again.

After the soapy water, rinse with ½ cup of white vinegar diluted in about a quart of warm water. Blot the spot with a clean towel to absorb any excess moisture. Finally, let the spot stand for a few hours then brush up the nap of the carpet to match the fluff with the remaining floor.

Related Content: How to Housetrain Your Puppy

Tip #4: Chalk it up to Upchuck!

Whether it’s from your pet, your kid, or your spouse who thought Jello shots were a good idea, vomit is never fun—and neither is cleaning up puke stains. First, hold your breath and pick up as much as you can while avoiding smushing it into the carpet more. Sorry for the visual there, but it’s really important to get all those chunks up first. Then immediately pour cold water or club soda onto the stains and let stand for one minute. Blot the stain with a clean, dry cloth until you’ve absorbed as much as possible. Finally, treat with a carpet stain remover containing enzymes – most products made for pet stains will work well.

While we can’t always prevent stains from happening, there is hope when they appear on our carpets. Keep these 4 easy tips handy and you’ll always have cheap, easy options for getting out some of the most common carpet eyesores. For more stain solutions check out How to Remove Almost Every Stain

Do you have a question about anything in this episode? Let me know in comments or send me an email at DomesticCEO@quickanddirtytips.com. Or you can post your comments on the  Domestic CEO Facebook wall or on my Twitter feed! Until next time, I’m the Domestic CEO, helping you love your home.

Man sweeping dirt off of carpet, coffee spilled on carpet, cat and girl image courtesy of Shutterstock